Beyond the Classroom: A Field Sales Consultant’s Advice for New Dentists

Aaron Messick, a field sales consultant for Henry Schein Dental who describes himself as passionate about meeting his clients’ needs, has been partnering with dentists to help them achieve their goals for 18 years. In that time, he has seen the whole range of career moments, from guiding young dentists through the challenges of getting their new practice off the ground to helping plan strategies for retirement—in some cases, for the same person.

“Ive always believed that if I do the right thing for my customers, well be able to establish a long-term relationship and grow together,” he says. “I feel very fortunate that Ive been able to do that for many years.” 

So, what advice would he give a dentist who is just getting started?

1. Find a Guide

“The No. 1 thing I would say to a young dentist is to partner with someone you can trust,” Messick states. “Someone who can guide you through the challenges that you may not be aware of or ready for, someone who can help you get over those hurdles and make it easier for you to accomplish your goals.” 


Messick’s approach to helping his clients is to get to know their individual situation, aspirations, and potential obstacles to success. “Every office is unique,” he says. “Every office has their own set of challenges and struggles. My approach is to have a game plan for each doctor that is customized to their needs. Because what’s challenging to one person may not be a challenge to someone else. Having an individualized game plan for each business is how I am successful in taking care of their needs.” 


With so much at stake, finding the right person is of paramount importance. Reputation and results—not personality—should be the key considerations. Messick recommends asking other dentists who they work with, and why. “The ‘why’ is important,” he stresses. Reasons to look for include trust and a proven ability to help grow a practice to the benefit of patients as well as the business. “Not, ‘they took me to play a round of golf’ or ‘they bought me a beer,’” he laughs. “You don’t need to be enamored by the social aspect. You need to ask the right questions and make sure that they’re taking care of the business needs and helping set things up properly and standing by doing the right thing.” 


Local knowledge is also a factor. “It’s good for them to know who the commercial real estate agents in town are and the local attorneys who can help you write a new business plan, ensure that associate agreement is fair, and ultimately set your practice up for success,” he points out.  

3. Set Realistic Goals

If there’s one pitfall Messick would caution against, it’s feeling the need to do too much, too soon. “I think that doctors need to live within their means. And they need to practice within their means,” he says. “Certain pieces of technology, certain tools that they may need for their practice, are good in time. But it’s also at the right time. A common mistake that I find with younger dentists is trying to upgrade too fast, trying to move too quickly, and not setting a realistic timeline for the vision that they have.” 


He tells the story of a dentist he’s worked with for 18 years. “He told me he bought the cabinets in his practice 20 years ago, when he was just starting out, as something to get him by,” Messick says. “And now he wants to replace them because they’re falling apart. But he bought them 20 years ago. That was a good investment.” 

“If you invest in your practice today, the right way, and you build it the right way, and you take care of it, itll last a long time,” he says. 

4. Look at the Big Picture

The bottom line, Messick reiterates, is to find a good partner, such as a Henry Schein Dental representative, who is dedicated to helping you achieve your goals so that you can be successful not only in practice, but also in life. 


“There are so many different stages for a young dentist,” he says. “Are they in school? Have they been out working for a while? Are they in the right geographical area? Where do they want to go? What is their vision? What type of practice do they want to create? Who is their target market? Will they take PPOs? My job is, 100%, to make sure that I am taking care of the doctor’s needs so that they’re successful, and then hope that I have created enough trust and brought enough value to them that I get to partner with them on the exciting run of their business for many years to come.”